A retired senior vet from Moray has called for dog licences to be reintroduced amid an “absolutely awful” rise of mess at beauty spots.
During his professional career John Bracegirdle, from Portknockie, has helped to coordinate government response to various diseases – including foot and mouth and bird flu.
Today he spends his retirement travelling to some of Scotland’s most scenic locations, when lockdown restrictions allow, for picture agencies.
However, during the last year he has seen picturesque beauty spots close to home at Portknockie’s Bow Fiddle Rock and Cullen Viaduct blighted even more by dog fouling.
The retired Moray vet believes the reintroduction of dog licences is the only way to keep communities beautiful.
He said: “When I’m taking photographs I speak to people from all over the world who cannot believe the dog mess that people leave behind – they’re appalled.
“I’ve lived in this area for about 30 years and I’ve seen it get much worse. It’s deplorable, particularly in the last year, people don’t seem to care.
“I’ve got nothing against dogs but it’s clear that fines just aren’t working because it’s absolutely awful the way it’s getting worse.
“I don’t really want to be draconian but I think they’ve got to look at dog licences again. I can remember I used to have one. It concentrated people’s minds and ensured responsible pet ownership.”
Dog licences were mandatory in the UK until they were scrapped in 1988 – they cost 37p at the time.
They were reintroduced in Northern Ireland in 2011 with an annual fee of £12.50 – with discounts for pensioners and owners of neutered dogs.
In Scotland, council officers, the police and community wardens have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to dog fouling offenders.
The Scottish Government believes the fines, which doubled to £80 in 2016, are still an “important tool” in helping to clear up Moray and other parts of the country while providing an alternative to prosecution.
A spokesman said: “Dog fouling is completely unacceptable and it is extremely disappointing that during the coronavirus pandemic some areas have seen an increase in irresponsible dog owners failing to clean up after their pets.
“Councils have a range of powers available to them to deal with dog fouling issues, including applying fixed penalty notices, and we support them to take action which will effectively deter and change the behaviour of inconsiderate dog owners.”